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Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD has announced his intention to amend the Companies Act in order to help small businesses in difficulty. This move comes as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs which is aimed at supporting the growth of SME sector.

According to the Minister’s statement, once the Companies Act has been amended, a measure will be contained in the upcoming Companies Bill, scheduled for publication before the end of 2012, which will allow small private companies in difficulty to apply directly to the Circuit Court to have an examiner appointed.

It is hoped that the planned amendment will help to address the issue of SME debt by making it easier for viable businesses to restructure their debts.

SMEs wishing to restructure their debts in this way must satisfy two of the following conditions;

Balance sheet not exceeding €4.4m;

Turnover not exceeding €8.8m; 

              Number of employees not exceeding 50.

On making the announcement Minister Bruton underlined the importance of the small business sector in Ireland and stated that: “Today’s announcement… will mean that it will be cheaper and easier for businesses to restructure their debts, meaning that more companies will be able to do so… more businesses will survive their current difficulties, meaning crucially that more jobs will be saved and more jobs will be created in this hugely important part of the economy. ”

Over one-third of all people working in Ireland today are employed by SMEs. The Government has already put in place a €90m microfinance scheme and the €450m credit guarantee scheme in an effort to assist this sector which is experiencing considerable difficulties in the current climate.